Judgment No. HB 18/2002
Case No. HC 2537/2002
RUTENDO LATOYA MUNDANDI
ALLETA MAZVITA MUNDANDI
ROBIN TAKUNDA GOREMUCHECHE
(assisted by their father DAVID MUNDANDI)
HIGH COURT OF ZIMBABWE
BULAWAYO 18 JANUARY, 19 FEBRUARY & 7 MARCH 2002
C Dube for the applicants
Mrs Chinamatira for the respondents
KAMOCHA J: The parties in this matter are close relatives. The first
two applicants were born out of wedlock in a relationship between David Mundandi
their father and Deborah Sithole their late mother. David Mundandi claimed that the
relationship was a customary law union but the respondents denied that. The first
respondent is a maternal aunt of the applicants and she is a sister in law of David
Mundandi. While the second respondent is their maternal grandmother and would
have been a mother in law of David Mundandi if it had been accepted that Deborah
had been married to him in a customary law union.
The late Deborah Sithole had also another son called Robin Takunda
Goremucheche (“Robin”) the third applicant fathered by a different man. So Robin
was a step son of David Mundandi herein after referred as “Mundandi.”
On 10 January, 2001 Mundandi and Deborah purchased a property known as
94 Hopefountain Road, Waterford, Bulawayo “the property” on behalf of the three
minor children namely Robin Takunda Goremucheche, Rutendo Latoya Mundandi
and Alleta Mazvita Mundandi. The property was duly registered into the names of the
three minor children.
The late Deborah Sithole passed away on 9 August 2001. That is when trouble
started between Mundandi and the relatives of Deborah including the two
respondents. Mundandi and Deborah together with the three children had been living
at the property before she died. But during the time of her illness some relatives
including the defendants moved in to look after her. They stayed there until she died.
After her death they did not want to leave the house.
Mundandi had to take legal action on behalf of the applicants in order to
compel the respondents to vacate the premises. A provisional order was granted on 28
August, 2001 ordering the two respondents to vacate the property within 4 days of
service of the court order upon them.
While this was going on Robin Takunda Goremucheche turned 18 years on 27
August, 2001 thereby becoming a major. He then immediately disassociated himself
with Mundandi and his half siblings and then aligned himself with the two
respondents who are his maternal aunt and maternal grandmother respectively. He
then became opposed to the idea of evicting the respondents from the property and
invited them to continue living there. Through the invitation of Robin the two
respondents defied the court order granted on 28 August 2001 claiming that they had a
right to live on the property since Robin was entitled to live there.
In an attempt to validate the stay of his aunt and grandmother Robin went to
court and applied for and was granted an order in a provisional form. The interim
relief granted was that his grandmother and aunt were with immediate effect permitted
and restored to occupy 94 Hopefountain Road, Waterford, Bulawayo, through Robin.
In the final order he sought to be removed from being a party to the proceedings in the
case initiated by Mundandi on behalf of the children. He pointed out that having
attained majority status Mundandi had no locus standi to represent him.
Further he asserted that as co-owner of the said property, he had absolute right
of ownership and by virtue of that right he was entitled to invite anybody to reside
Mundandi accepted in his opposing papers that he had no locus standi to
represent Robin as from 27 August 2001 in view of his attainment of majority
status. He also excluded Robin from being a party in case number HC 2537/01.
Consequently Robin was no longer a party to those proceedings when the matter was
argued. He was only a party to case number 2727/01 which was instituted by himself.
What is clear from the documents filed of record is that the two respondents
have their own properties elsewhere and that was not denied by them. It is also clear
that the respondents have caused a lot of trouble at the property. Mundandi and the
two children have had to move out of the property because of the endless problems
caused by the two respondents and their relatives. While Robin does have a right to
invite anybody he likes to live on the property he must do so without violating the
rights of his co-owners. His co-owners are the majority shareholders whose rights
must be respected. If Robin cannot do without his troublesome relatives he should go
and join them wherever they will be. The other co-owners need to live at the property
without any disturbance.
Apart from wanting to live on the property at the invitation of Robin the
respondents have no legal basis to occupy the property. The same cannot be said
about Mundandi who is looking after the two girls. He is educating them. He has
sent them to private schools where he pays substantial amounts of money by way of
school fees. He regards himself as their guardian. Even before Deborah passed away
he was regarded as one of the guardians of the children. When purchasing the
property on behalf of the three children on 10 January, 2001 the agreement of sale
reflects that the children were being duly assisted jointly and severally by their legal
guardians namely Deborah Sithole and David Mundandi. Quite clearly the late
Deborah accepted Mundandi as a guardian of the children. He is therefore entitled to
live at the property as long as he remains the guardian of the girls. He should be
allowed to look after them in a peaceful atmosphere.
In conclusion I must emphasize that the respondents have no legal right apart
from Robin’s invitation to remain at the property. They have got their own properties
elsewhere and should go and live there.
The respondents defied a court order. This type of behaviour can never be
countenanced by any court of law. Regrettably defying court orders is becoming
prevalent these days. Courts should always visit the culprits with punitive costs as a
sign of displeasure to such practice. The applicants are therefore entitled to their costs
at a higher scale as prayed.
The order I make is that the provisional order in matter number HC 2537/01
issued on 28 August, 2001 be and is hereby confirmed with costs on an attorney and
The provisional order in matter number HC 2727/01 issued on 14 September,
2001 be and is hereby discharged with costs.
Paradza, Dube & Associates, applicants’ legal practitioners
Bulawayo Legal Project Centre, respondents’ legal practitioners